This study intends to clarify the psychological mechanism that explains the crisis responsibility and corporate reputation link, aiming at gaining knowledge on individuals’ perception formations in and reactions to a crisis. We extended the situational crisis communication theory through identifying the moderation effects of personal relevance and person–company fit in this relationship. The VW emissions scandal was investigated with respect to its impact on post-crisis reputation and negative word-of-mouth. A sample of 721 German respondents was analyzed through structural equation modeling. The results suggest that personal relevance strengthens the positive relationship between crisis responsibility and anger. Next to this, person–company fit weakens the impact of crisis responsibility on anger, as well as on sympathy. The results suggest that more attention needs to be drawn on the personal perspective in crisis communication, while different response strategies should be developed with respect to distinct stakeholder groups for protecting corporate reputation in the crisis context.

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Keywords Corporate reputation, Crisis communication, Emotion, Identification, Involvement, Responsibility
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Journal Corporate Reputation Review
Wang, Y, & Wanjek, L. (Louisa). (2018). How to Fix a Lie? The Formation of Volkswagen’s Post-crisis Reputation Among the German Public. Corporate Reputation Review, 1–17. doi:10.1057/s41299-018-0045-8